This course focuses on collisions within the solar system and the effects of those collisions. Astronomers once believed that collisions within the solar system were unimportant today, but one event we will study is the crash of a comet into Jupiter in 1994. Possibly the most important large impact on Earth was the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, which is a topic we will study in detail. Large impacts are suspected of altering the major properties of many planets in the solar system. We will study what properties of the impactor are important in determining the resulting crater, as well as how different surfaces are affected by impacts.
This class is aimed at non-science majors. It will emphasize the scientific method and means scientists use to determine what we know about collisions in space. The only math skills required are those you should possess upon entry to the university: some simple algebra, the use of scientific notation, and how to interpret graphs.